Planning an Orlando vacation can be overwhelming (in a good way) thanks to the endless number of things to do in Orlando. However, visiting the theme parks and hitting the top attractions can put a big dent in your wallet. By taking advantage of the free offerings in Orlando, you can keep yourself on budget while still having a fantastic and memorable vacation.
After years of exploring Orlando (my home city), I’ve put together this list of the best free things to do in Orlando. These are the activities my family does in Orlando when we are trying to save some money.
Table of Contents
- 24 Free Things to Do in Orlando
- Disney Springs
- Universal CityWalk
- Disney’s Boardwalk
- Old Town
- Celebration Town Center
- The Mall at Millenia
- ICON Park
- Walt Disney World Monorail
- Lakeridge Winery Tours
- Orlando Brewing Tours
- West Orange Trail
- Lake Eola Park
- Dr. P. Phillips Community Park
- Kraft Azalea Garden
- University of Central Florida Arboretum
- Harry P Leu Gardens
- Big Tree Park
- Dinky Dock Park
- Hontoon Island State Park
- Fort Christmas Historical Park
- Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive
- Winter Garden Farmers Market
- Historic Walking Tour of Winter Park
- Frequently Asked Questions
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24 Free Things to Do in Orlando
Experience the magic
Disney Springs (previously known as Downtown Disney) is a shopping and entertainment district located at Disney. Parking and admission are always free. You can find shops, restaurants, and entertainment offerings with varying price points. Check out my list of the best things to do in Disney Springs for more information.
Throughout the year, Disney Springs hosts many free festivals and free events. Kids can experience all the magic of Disney, like the LEGO Imagination Center and T-Rex Restaurant, without needing theme park admission tickets.
📚 Related Reading: Check out my guide to the Best Months to Visit Disney World to maximize your time (and therefore, money) by avoiding crowds and peak pricing.
Enjoy food and fun times
CityWalk is Universal’s dining and entertainment area and it is located next to the theme parks for quick and easy access. There are several restaurants and shops to explore. For adults, CityWalk comes alive at night with plenty of bars and clubs. To get free parking at CityWalk, arrive after 6 pm or purchase two movie tickets from Universal Cinemark (located inside CityWalk).
📚 Related Reading: Universal hotels offer free transportation to CityWalk and the theme parks, so they are some of my recommended picks for the best places to stay in Orlando Florida.
Good old-fashioned fun
📍 Map It: 2101 Epcot Resorts Blvd, Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830 | Phone: (407) 939-5277 | Website | Hours: 6:30 am – 10 pm
Disney’s Boardwalk will transport you back to a simpler time. It is located next to the Boardwalk Inn and connects to Epcot and four other hotels. There are a handful of restaurants and shops to enjoy, but the true appeal is the ambiance.
I love to grab a drink, walk around the water, and explore the hotels. A new addition to the Boardwalk is the Skyliner, a gondola that connects to Hollywood Studios and other resorts.
🚗 How to Get There: Without a hotel or dining reservation, it is a 50/50 shot that the security guards will let you park at the Boardwalk. You can avoid that hassle by taking Disney transportation from one of the other resorts, Disney Springs, or a Disney theme park.
Live music and classic cars
📍 Map It: 5770 W Irlo Bronson Memorial Hwy, Kissimmee, FL 34746 | Phone: (407) 396-4888 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 11 pm
Old Town is one of the best free things to do in Orlando, Florida because there are so many entertainment options in one place. In addition to free admission, you can enjoy free car shows, free live entertainment, and free events. You can window shop, grab a bite to eat, and ride one of the many attractions.
📚 Related Reading: This destination isn’t just great because it’s free, I also included it on my list of the Best Things to Do in Orlando. Read what my other favorite activities are!
Celebration Town Center
Stroll quaint small-town streets
Originally founded by the Walt Disney Company, Celebration is a small town to the south of Disney. In the heart of the village is a quaint downtown area with restaurants and small businesses. Walk along the lake, play in the interactive fountain, and just enjoy the small-town atmosphere. Visiting Celebration Town Center is a calm break from the craziness of the theme parks and Orlando attractions.
The Mall at Millenia
Wander through high fashion stores
The Mall at Millenia is more than just a shopping destination. It is a place to enjoy window shopping the most luxurious brands (while still being able to hit your favorite stores too). Admission is totally free, but you’ll still need to pay for any purchases you just can’t leave without. Around the mall, you’ll find tons of restaurants to make a full day of your visit.
📚 Related Reading: Since the mall can get busy during the peak tourism season. Check out my guide to the Best Time to Go to Orlando to find out when you can avoid the crowds.
Entertain the entire family
ICON Park is another entertainment district in Orlando, FL. It is located on iconic International Drive and is home to The Wheel, SEA LIFE Aquarium, and Madame Tussauds wax museum. Around ICON Park you can find plenty of restaurants, shops, and bars. I recommended making your own walking tour along International Drive for lots of entertainment, live music, and delicious food and drink.
👉 Traveling With Kids? The SEA LIFE Aquarium and The Wheel are two of my recommended Things to do With Children in Orlando, FL.
Walt Disney World Monorail
Zoom above the parks
Considered a rite of passage for locals to Orlando, FL, touring the Magic Kingdom resorts on the monorail is a fun way to spend an afternoon or a rainy day. For those over 21, this can also be called the “Monorail Bar Crawl”. Each hotel has themed decor, unique restaurants, and fun bars to explore. Plus, you can’t beat the views of Cinderella Castle.
🚗 How to Get There: To access the monorail, you will need to pay to park at the Ticket & Transportation Center (Magic Kingdom parking) or park at one of the resorts along the path. Typically, you need a dining reservation to park at a Disney hotel, but sometimes a friendly security guard will let you in without one.
Lakeridge Winery Tours
Discover local winemaking
The Lakeridge Winery vineyards are located 30 minutes west of downtown Orlando, FL. Every day they offer free tours and wine tastings from 10 am – 4 pm. On Saturdays and Sundays, they also host Weekends at the Winery where you can enjoy free live music, an outdoor wine bar, and food offerings.
Orlando Brewing Tours
Learn the organic brewing process
If you are a true beer lover, you won’t want to miss a visit to Orlando Brewing. Located in Orlando’s SODO neighborhood, Orlando Brewing is everything you want from a local brewhouse.
The taproom is pet-friendly, offers several tasty beer options, and you can bring your own food or order delivery from nearby restaurants. Orlando Brewing offers free tours Monday-Saturday at 6 pm. While the tour does not include a tasting, the taproom has affordable tasting flights for you to enjoy after your tour.
West Orange Trail
Get active and outdoors
The West Orange Trail runs 22 miles from Winter Garden to Apopka, just west of Orlando, Florida. You can rent bicycles at the Killarney Station and the Winter Garden Station. Since the trail is multi-use, feel free to bring your skateboards, rollerblades, Onewheels, or just two walking shoes. Don’t miss a stop in quaint downtown Winter Garden, where you can find Crooked Can Brewery and some scrumptious restaurants.
📚 Related Reading: The West Orange Trail connects to the South Lake-Lake Minneola Scenic Trail (additional 13 miles) to cover a large portion of Central. Check out my other favorite Things To Do and See in Central Florida.
Lake Eola Park
The heart of downtown Orlando
No trip to the City Beautiful is complete without a stop at Lake Eola Park, located in the heart of downtown Orlando. I think this is one of the most underrated free things to do in Orlando. Lake Eola Park surrounds its namesake lake with a historic fountain. On the water, you can see swans of all kinds: both feathered and paddleboats move through the lake.
👉 Pro Tip: Art lovers should make the short walk from Lake Eola to the Grand Bohemian Hotel. The Grand Bohemian gallery has an eclectic selection of art and even features exclusive pieces from world-renowned artists.
Dr. P. Phillips Community Park
Get away from the attractions
If you and the family need a break from pushing through crowds and waiting in lines at the theme parks, head over to Dr. P. Phillips Community Park. The park is located between Universal Orlando and Walt Disney World. Kids can play in the splash pad and the entire family can enjoy a nature trail along the lake. If you brought your furry friend on vacation with you, they can get out the zoomies at the dog park.
Kraft Azalea Garden
Beauty and Relaxation
The gorgeous Kraft Azalea Garden covers 5 acres along Lake Maitland in Winter Park. Take the family here for a relaxing walk and beautiful views. Extend the outing by bringing a picnic or grabbing food from one of the many trendy Winter Park restaurants.
👉 Pro Tip: If you’re looking for some special keepsakes from your trip to Orlando, hire a local photographer and take family photos in the garden. Local photographers love this spot; it is one of their best-kept secrets.
University of Central Florida Arboretum
Landscaping and natural spaces meet college campus
Believe it or not, the UCF Arboretum spans the entire campus! When the Arboretum was created in 1983, the decision was made to include all campus landscaping instead of maintaining a separate garden. In addition to the landscaping, the UCF Arboretum also maintains an organic edible garden and miles of natural trails. As one of the free things to do in Orlando, visitors can enjoy the Arboretum from sunup to sundown. In addition, you can enjoy a free tour with Arboretum staff Monday-Friday from 8 am – 4 pm.
Harry P Leu Gardens
Orlando’s favorite botanical garden
Another one of Orlando’s beautiful parks, Leu Gardens, located minutes north of Downtown Orlando, comprises 50 acres of well-maintained beds of local and exotic plants. Admission is free on the first Monday of each month (otherwise admission is an affordable $15 for adults). The park is divided into multiple themed gardens, including the butterfly garden and the tropical stream garden, so you can enjoy wandering amongst the foliage and discovering beauty around every corner.
👉 Want More Things to Do? Check out my full list of all the 33 best things to do in Orlando.
Big Tree Park
History 3,500 years in the making
Big Tree Park is one of the free things to do in Orlando where adults can take in a piece of history and children can get out their energy on a playground. The park is located in Longwood, north of Orlando. It was once home to “The Senator”, a 3,500-year-old bald cypress tree that was burned down in 2012. The stump and informative sign remains. In addition, you can see “Lady Liberty”, a 2,000-year-old bald cypress tree, and “The Phoenix” which is a clone of “The Senator.”
Dinky Dock Park
Hang out like a local
To spend an afternoon like a Central Florida local, head to Dinky Dock Park in Winter Park. You can swim in Lake Virginia or just hang out along the shores. To get out on the water, rent a kayak from the nearby business. The park is close to Park Avenue, a strip of hip restaurants and boutique shops.
👉 Pro Tip: You can assume that every body of water in Florida has alligators in it. Don’t worry though, the gators tend to avoid swimming areas with lots of people.
Hontoon Island State Park
Get lost on the island
Hontoon Island is a state park located in the middle of the St. Johns River. It is one of the free things to do in Orlando but bring some cash along to tip your ferry boat driver. Enjoy over 3 miles of biking and hiking trails or rent a kayak from the Island Store. If you want an extended visit, book one of the rustic cabins for an overnight adventure.
👉 Read Next: How Safe is Orlando Right Now?
Fort Christmas Historical Park
Take a walk through history
Fort Christmas is located on the east side of Greater Orlando. It is totally free to visit the park and walk through the visitor’s center and replica homes. The main attraction is the replica of Fort Christmas, which was originally built during the Second Seminole War. Visiting Fort Christmas will allow you to learn about hundreds of years of Florida history.
👉 Love History? Take a drive up to St. Augustine, the oldest city in America and one of many Epic Day Trips from Orlando.
Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive
See local wildlife (with A/C)
The Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive is one the best locations to see Florida wildlife up close. The north shore of Lake Apopka, where the drive is located, was decimated by over-fertilization from farms. Thanks to local campaigning, the area is being cleaned up. Migratory birds and alligators can be seen by the plenty.
👉 Love Seeing Animals? Florida is full of opportunities to observe wildlife in its natural habitats. Our list of the Best Things to Do in Florida contains some of our favorites, like kayaking through the Everglades and swimming with manatees.
Winter Garden Farmers Market
Support local artisans
The Winter Garden Farmers Market takes place every Saturday from 8 am – 1 pm. You can stroll the brick streets and see what the local food trucks, farmers, and artisans are selling. Next to the market is the downtown strip of even more shops and restaurants.
👉 Pro Tip: Many local neighborhoods host farmers markets. The Winter Park Farmers Market and Downtown Orlando Farmers Market are two other fun options.
Historic Walking Tour of Winter Park
Architecture and history
The Winter Park History Museum has put together a free self-guided walking tour. You can pick up the brochure at the museum and begin exploring Winter Park’s history. Many of the stops along the tour were built before 1930 and add to the historic charm of the city.
👉 Loving Winter Park? Head over to the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art to see the most comprehensive collection of belongings and art from Louis Comfort Tiffany. Enjoy free admission to the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum on Fridays from 4 pm – 8 pm.
Admire local and international works
Take in multiple art galleries at CityArts in downtown Orlando. You can visit the venue for free Tuesday – Saturday. There are nine different art galleries and most of the pieces are available for purchase.
👉 Love Street Art? Orlando’s art scene is always growing, but Florida is full of local artists who are sharing their art through murals. Sarasota and Miami are two of the Best Places to Go in Florida and they have stunning murals around each city.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is there to do in Orlando for cheap?
Some cheap activities in Orlando include visiting local gardens, outdoor entertainment areas (like Universal CityWalk), and exploring the county and state parks. Tubing in the springs at Kelly Park is a local favorite. Our guide to Orlando on a Budget will tell you everything you need to know to make the most of your money in Orlando.
What can you do for free at Disney World?
Some free activities at Disney World include visiting Disney Springs, walk around Disney’s Boardwalk, exploring the resorts, and riding the monorails, boats, and buses.
🏰 Headed to Disney World? Check out my epic Disney Itinerary Touring Planner. Everything is pre-planned for you, step-by-step.
Is Disney World free on your birthday?
Unfortunately, no or not anymore. Walt Disney World ran a promotion in 2009 that gave guests a free admission ticket on their birthday. The campaign did a little too well and many people still think they can go to Disney World for free on their birthday.
Don’t let the prices of theme park tickets and major attractions scare you away from planning a trip to Orlando, FL. You can easily have an action-packed and memorable vacation without breaking the bank.
👉 Need More Suggestions?: I also put together a list of my top suggestions for Things to Do in Orlando.
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